Chapter 3: Big Moves
So our story continues at the start of 2016. SD had returned to college in January. We had a few dinners and get-togethers during her visit. I had invited them over for dinner. All seemed fine although they did continue to talk to each other more than involve me in their conversations. After SD returned to college, however, she became more of distant thought. SO would bring her up from time to time and I would also inquire every so often. SO informed me that SD decided to legally change her first name because she wanted a gender-neutral name and also hated that her mother picked her birth name. It all sounded spiteful to me but I also thought that 18 was old enough to decide your own name, so I rolled with it and started referring to SD by her new chosen first name (which she eventually did have legally changed).
SO and I continued to grow closer and said our ‘I Love You’s’ for the first time. We were still very much enjoying each other’s company. In the meantime, even prior to meeting SO, I had been on a casual search for a new home. I had lived in a tiny 900 SF condo for many years, and while I liked the location, I really wanted more space and a garage for my bikes and camping gear. I also wanted something low-maintenance that I could handle on my own (so no house with a large yard). One day I happened to drive by a new development that consisted of lovely townhomes in an area that I liked. I took a look and ended up signing papers in March for a nice, airy, spacious end unit with a small yard that was scheduled for completion in September.
I brought SO over to look at it. He made it clear that he wasn’t in a financial position to purchase the home with me and I said that wasn’t a problem – I would purchase and own it for myself. He then brought up the question of whether I envisioned us living together there, and I said yes I had thought about it and would like to. He said he wanted us to live together as well. We agreed to work on the details of his rent, joint expenses, etc. before we took the plunge, but since the home wouldn’t be ready until September we had time to think through all the plans.
By spring, we had told our family that we planned to move in together later that year. Our families were happy for us. Well, except one person – SD. When DH told her he said she was quiet and said nothing. I asked him, well, did you press her later for any thoughts or feelings? He said, No she’s fine. I have since learned that SO tends to avoid any difficult conversations with SD and instead will just drop some news and run away from it. He is definitely afraid of her reactions.
So when SD came home from college that summer, she and SO were still living in his apartment. We brought SD to see the model home of the new place and her reaction was pretty much silence as she walked through. Except when she walked through the model homes’ staged master bedroom which had a picture of a fake happy couple on the nightstand. She commented, ‘you guys can’t have that’. Um, huh? SO (of course) says nothing and I let the comment slide as not that important.
Its funny how looking back on things I see all the little comments and slights from a completely different perspective. Back then, not having any experience in the step-world, I was ignorant to how damaged SD really was from the divorce and figured these little things were just part of a normal adjustment period. I didn’t realize they were early indicators of just how resentful SD would eventually become. Anyway, I’ll stop here before we get into the next Chapter - my first Summer of Terror with SD around, which includes the now infamous Lasagna-gate (which triggered SO and mine’s first argument over SD).